First Step Act

This relatively recently enacted federal legislation passed in 2018 is actually called “Formerly Incarcerated Reenter Society Transformed 4 Safely Transitioning Every Person Act.” This act allows for a more smooth reentry to society for individuals who were imprisoned under the Federal Department of corrections by incentivizing good behavior and self-enrichment, allowing for pre-release custody, ensuring dignity for incarcerated women, and allowing for prisoners to petition for transfer to facilities closer to their homes and families.


Sentencing Reform Act

Enacted in 1984, H.R.5773 is a federal bill that has affected how individuals are sentenced after being convicted of a crime. It established the United States Sentencing Commission and states that the court must deliver sentences within the guidelines set forth by the commission where they exist unless they find there to be aggravated or mitigating circumstances. In addition, it provides for the court to deliver probation sentences, order victim restitution and/or criminal fees.


Probation Act Analysis From 1952: A Half-Century of Federal Probation and Parole

Written in the Spring of 1952 by Charles H. Z. Meyer, this is an interesting look back at the state of supervision as a rehabilitative tool a half-century after its implementation. Readers will note, how similar the conditions of probation and parole are today to 1952, further highlighting the need for reform.


1994 Crime Bill

This landmark federal legislation stems from a time where it was politically apt to appear “tough on crime.” The now controversial bill is now thought by many to have contributed largely to the high incarceration number across the US. This dense bill contains many components with lasting effects on the Criminal Justice System. It provides for tougher sentencing on a federal level and encouraged the same in state courts. One component of this is the controversial “three strikes rule.” Federal grant money was also channeled toward prison construction. This bill did have bi-partisan support and did include important pieces like the Violence Against Women Act and funded background checks for gun permit seekers, as well as encouraging state drug courts.


US vs. Salerno

This Supreme Court Decision of 1987, decreed that the Bail Reform Act of 1984, which mandates the pretrial imprisonment of those accused of certain crimes and thought to be a danger to the community, is not unconstitutional. 


Gagnon vs. Scarpelli

A Supreme Court Decision of 1973, in which it was decided that in order for a probationer’s sentence to be revoked they must have a preliminary revocation hearing and a final revocation hearing. 


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